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No Ronaldo, but Real have edge

Madrid: Real Madrid top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Wednesday’s King’s Cup final against Barcelona after failing to recover from knee and thigh muscle problems, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

The Portugal captain and Ballon d’Or winner has missed Real’s last three matches since limping off near the end of the Champions League quarter final, first leg against Borussia Dortmund on April 2.

Ancelotti said on Friday there was a still a chance Ronaldo might recover for the clash at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia but confirmed at a news conference the player was unavailable.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is out, we have a lot of players sidelined,” said Ancelotti, who will also be without longer-term absentees Jese, Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo.

“But we have a lot of confidence in this team,” added the Italian, who declined to answer a question about who would start the Cup final in Ronaldo’s absence.

“It has always reacted well to injuries and I think we can also do things very well tomorrow.”

The latest edition of Spain’s ‘Clasico’ between arch-rivals Real and Barca is their 228th meeting and a repeat of the 2011 Cup final, also held at the Mestalla, when Ronaldo’s extra-time header secured a 1-0 win.

On the other hand, captain Carles Puyol, who has barely featured this term due to a series of injuries, Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra were all included in the squad for the trip to Valencia and Martino said a decision would be taken on Wednesday whether they could play.

Andres Iniesta said he expected Real to be just as much of a threat without Ronaldo. “The team doesn’t change whether he is playing or not,” Iniesta said.